Vegan in College: Transitioning to Vassar

As I mentioned in my latest “Interview With a Farmer” post, I officially moved into my dorm at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY on Tuesday. Along with my internship at the Troy Kids’ Garden, most of my summer included transferring my possessions into cardboard UHAUL boxes, quadruple-checking my comprehensive packing list, agonizing over narrowing down my course selections amongst the plethora of stunningly intriguing options during pre-registration, and researching the bounty of esteemed New York vegan restaurants to visit during my studies in the Hudson Valley. Nerves permeated no aspect of these preparations; I had eagerly awaited the commencement of my college journey since junior year of high school. However, only one of my most prized hobbies, as well as a necessity of life, caused me much anxiety when considering my move to the east coast: food. Yes, my friend and current Vassar sophomore assured me that the All-Campus Dining Center (ACDC) provided a wealth of vegan options (including a create-your-own stir fry station!), but I panicked over the possibility of forsaking the intense pleasure I constantly discover in creating my own meals, especially those utilizing fresh produce from the farmers market.

Thus, I clicked my mindset to full-fledged food/kitchen preparation mode. Opting for the minimum form of the meal plan, which more or less allows me to eat one meal per day in the ACDC, I happily retained the ability to enjoy my daily smoothies and lunch salads, along with weekly (and meticulously budgeted) jaunts to the Arlington Farmers’ Market as well as to a grocery store and a health food store called the House of Nutrition, both just across the street from campus. A large portion of my kitchen supplies completed the 17-hour-long trek to New York with me, including my blender, food processor, famous blue ceramic salad bowl, stainless steel pots and pans, cutting board, and loads of Tupperware containers, all of which now live snugly alongside my clothing in my wooden wardrobe plastered with old New Yorker covers.

In addition to various supplies and appliances, I also packed three plastic bins full of pantry staples which currently reside underneath my bed. Top Left Bin Contents: spices, nuts, dried fruit. Top Right Bin Contents: gluten-free flours, cacao and carob powders, date syrup and agave nectar, cacao nibs, baking powder, agar flakes, baking yeast. Bottom Bin Contents:teas, seasweed, nutritional yeast, grains, canned beans, olive and coconut oils, vinegars, coconut aminos, Dijon mustard.

In terms of actual food preparation, I whipped up multiple batches of different types of veggie burgers, along with a couple fabulous Gluten-Free Buns from Green Kitchen Stories, to freeze in my mini-fridge’s freezer. Here are the six burger recipes I followed: Black Bean Beet Burgers from Including Cake; Foolproof Tofu Burgers from Choosing Raw; Classic Veggie Burgers from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes; Juice Pulp Veggie Burgers from Sketch-Free Eating; Quinoa Sweet Potato Kale Cakes from YumUniverse, and Poblano Pepper, Sweet Corn, and Pinto Bean Burgers from Peaceful Plate.

The bottom portion of my mini-fridge houses fresh produce from the Arlington Farmers’ Market, including gorgeously succulent sungold and heirloom tomatoes as well as robust salad greens, along with GT’s Kombucha (I haven’t yet discovered a local kombucha brewer in the Poughkeepsie area), my infamous Liquid Gold Dressing, tahini, dates, miso, and flaxseed meal.

As for the actual areas in which I cook, every morning I head downstairs to the newly renovated dorm kitchen to blend up my smoothie—thankfully, the kitchen is secluded from anyone’s actual room, so I musn’t worry about rousing sleepy college students in the wee hours. This larger communal kitchen houses my blender, food processor, and basic smoothie ingredients, including kale, fresh fruit (also from the Arlington Farmers Market; I gleefully picked up white peaches, raspberries, and nectarines last night), homemade almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, lucuma, maca, spirulina, and wheatgrass powder.

My well-guarded bag in the communal refrigerator.

My first smoothie at Vassar–yes, that is a name label from my label-maker on the spoon.

For lunch, I’ve set up my dresser as a make-shift countertop to prepare my prized salads.

Dinner usually leads me toward the ACDC, along with my collegiate compatriates, to enjoy a surprising host of wholesome vegan options complete with a well-stocked salad bar, whole grain salads, roasted vegetables, tofu, and brown rice.

Last night’s plate included roasted brussels sprouts (my favorite!), mixed greens, chickpeas, carrots, tomatoes, cold roasted beets, and mung bean sprouts.

So far, I’ve not harnessed a moment of time amongst the whirlwind of orientation for culinary experimentation, though I do intend to aromatize the kitchen with a batch of granola in the very near future. Welcome to Vassar!

Until next time, Ali.

13 thoughts on “Vegan in College: Transitioning to Vassar

  1. Gabby @ the veggie nook says:

    Wow you are going to eat so well! Much better than I did when I went to university. First year was just a terrible food year for me!

    It’s funny though, I’m moving a couple weeks and I’m carting food with me too- looks and sounds super similar to your haul 😉

    I can’t wait to see what you cook up this year!

  2. aspiringsteph says:

    I’m moving to my residence tomorrow! I unfortunately don’t think will have time to create my own foods now…I’m not even taking any ingredients over (due to so much clothes!). I envy your stocked kitchen! Hopefully I’ll start cooking some vegan goodies too for myself and my roommates. Until then though, I guess I’ll just have to survive on campus food..At least, it has vegetarian and vegan options…

    • Ali Seiter says:

      Good luck in college! I’m sure you’ll fare just dandily with vegan/vegetarian eating; college campuses are well-equipped to cater to many different dietary needs. I hope you can cook a little yourself, too!

  3. Maryt says:

    Hi! I looked at your fb since you’re our new secretary (congrats) and found your blog! This post made me happy bc a) you were not lying in your campgain statement you are crazy organized. And b) I’m so inspired! I wish I’d known they don’t stock the kitchens here my cook’s heart broke :(. Cool blog!
    Love from, a fellow freshman

  4. Emily L says:

    Wow.. very helpful! I’ll be attending Vassar in the fall and have been on a whole-food, plant-based diet for a few years now.. I was rather worried about continuing my diet in college but it seems that you’ve done it just fine! Thanks for the info. Any other tips you’ve got for being vegan at Vassar?

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